Dana Tizya-Tramm elected new chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon has a new chief-elect: Dana Tizya-Tramm.

Tizya-Tramm picked up 95 votes to defeat incumbent chief, former MLA in election Monday evening

Dana Tizya-Tramm will be the next chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, after winning an election Monday evening. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon has a new chief-elect: Dana Tizya-Tramm.

The former councillor and president of Youth of the Peel won the election over incumbent chief Bruce Charlie and former MLA Darius Elias in a vote Monday.

Tizya-Tramm described the campaign and election as "very humbling.

"I think I reached really deep down inside myself, and found this wonderful place in my heart that, no matter what, it would have been a success for myself," he said.

Tizya-Tramm moved back to his home community of Old Crow from British Columbia several years ago, focusing his efforts on youth empowerment programs like Youth of the Peel and Our Voices, which provides experiential learning for Indigenous youth.

Tizya-Tramm was elected with 95 votes, while Elias picked up 80 and Charlie received 66.

He says he plans to focus on bolstering current government structures to better serve Vuntut Gwitchin members in Old Crow and elsewhere, as well as create more transparency.

"As a self-governing First Nation ... we have nothing to hide," he said. "So I'd really like to open the government up to our beneficiaries, to our youth, to our elders."

I hope this is a signal to other First Nations youth... that there is a place for you in your governments.- Dana Tizya-Tramm

At 31, Tizya-Tramm believes he is the youngest person to ever be elected chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin.

"Age is not really a part of the job," he said. "I'm very much concentrated on the next four years and more. I hope this is a signal to other First Nations youth, and youth in general ... that there is a place for you in your governments."

There was no election for councillor, as all three candidates who put their names forward — Cheryl Joyce Charlie, Marvin Frost Jr., and Brandy Star Tizya — were acclaimed. Four members typically sit on the Vuntut Gwitchin council, and Tizya-Tramm says that the new council will go through government functions to fill out the team.

The three acclaimed council members are all younger members of the community, something that Tizya-Tramm says is very exciting — and that he's already getting set to work with the new group.

"Before you build a house, you have to design it. And once you see it on paper, you get excited," said Tizya-Tramm. "That's what I have really anchored in my heart, is this excitement to get in there and start working.

"And once I start bringing back accomplishments, and finishing some projects, and people start seeing the fruits of our labour, there's nothing more exciting than that."

A date has not been set for the swearing-in of the new chief and council, but Tizya-Tramm says he expects it will be in early January.

With files from Sandi Coleman